The Speaker of the Estonian Parliament, member of the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), Henn Põlluas, condemned the opposition Reform Party for their proposal to the MPs to discuss the issue of the country’s joining Russia, seeing it as a threat to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Estonia.
The oppositionists made such a proposal during the discussion of a bill on holding a referendum on whether marriage is a union of only a man and a woman.
Earlier, MPs from the Reform Party Urmas Kruuse, Ants Laaneots, and Jüri Jaanson proposed an amendment to the bill on the marriage referendum with the question: “Would it be better to live in the Republic of Estonia if the country was part of Russia?”
Kruse later said he was withdrawing the question. “Naturally, my personal answer and the answer of all of us is no. Estonia must always remain free. I made this suggestion to call attention to the absurdity of this marriage referendum and the need to answer in any case “No” to the enforced hostility on the part of EKRE. I realized that my question was inappropriate and rejected it,” he told the Postimees.
“Reformists Urmas Kruuse, Jüri Jaanson, and Ants Laaneots had proposed subjecting Estonia to Russia. They wanted to ask in a referendum whether it would be better to live in the Republic of Estonia if it were part of Russia. These proposals are clearly directed against the independence of the state, constitutional order and territorial integrity of Estonia, which are qualified as high treason according to the Penal Code,” Põlluaas wrote on Facebook.
The speaker said that members of parliament have grossly violated their oath of office to be loyal to the Republic of Estonia, the Estonian people, and the constitutional order with their unconstitutional proposals. “Naturally, all these parliamentarians who have violated their oath of office should be held accountable for their actions and resign. Their behavior is inexcusable, there is no excuse for it,” Phyllis said.
The amendment proposal caused dissatisfaction among members of the government and was condemned by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centrist Party), Finance Minister Martin Helme (EKRE), and Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Fatherland).
The political situation worsened as a result of the intention of the parties in the ruling coalition to hold a referendum this spring on marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to legalize this provision in the country’s constitution. The referendum was included in the coalition agreement at the suggestion of EKRE and was supported by the other political organizations that make up the governing alliance: The Centrist Party and the Isamaa (Fatherland) Party.
The referendum is opposed by the opposition Reformist and Social Democratic parties, which believe that the constitutional provision on marriage as a union between a man and a woman splits society and violates the rights of sexual minorities.
In December 2020, the parliament supported the first reading of the referendum bill. But by the second reading, which is scheduled for January 13, the opposition parties have submitted more than 9300 amendments to the bill, most of which have nothing to do with the theme of the referendum, and some are exotic in nature. Thus the opposition wants to block the work of the legislative body and stop the decision on the referendum.
According to the Law on Rules and Procedures of Parliament, a 10-minute break can be taken before each amendment proposal is voted on to discuss it. If there are thousands of such motions, parliament can be suspended for an extended period of time.
This week the constitutional commission began debating amendments to the draft referendum. The meetings of the commission turned into a heated argument between the coalition and the opposition over procedural rules.